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EPA fines ministry for waste dumped during bridge construction

The ministry failed to respond to repeated claims construction materials were being dumped into the sea.



The Sinamalé Bridge under construction. – File photo

The Ministry of National Planning and Infrastructure has been fined nearly US$60,000 for allowing cement and metal to be dumped into the ocean during the construction of the Malé-Hulhumale bridge.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Wednesday it had received multiple complaints about the dumping of construction waste into the sea between 2016 and 2018, while the bridge was being built.

The EPA said it inspected the area with the help of the Maldives National Defence Force and discovered metal waste on the ocean floor.

The EPA said the ministry in charge of the project had failed to report environmental violations by the contractor and had also failed to respond to official inquiries.

The ministry has been fined MVR892,500 ($57,600), in line with Environmental Protection Act rules. The ministry was asked by the EPA to pay the fine within 30 days.

The “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge” now known as the “Sinamalé Bridge” was constructed by the CCCC (China Communication and Construction Company) Second Harbour Engineering, a company blacklisted by the World Bank until 2017.

In 2018, the company promised to investigate allegations that its staff had been illegally shark fishing. The company also promised to clean up construction debris from the seabed. 

The bridge was opened to the public last September, just ahead of the presidential polls, in what was largely seen as a vote-winning exercise by the former president, Abdulla Yameen.